Charles Schwab is looking to make a statement in the exchange-traded fund space, even if its CEO Walt Bettinger wants to downplay the significance of the move.
The firm yesterday revealed in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that it has cut the price of its ETFs, in some cases, by more than half. For example: management fees for the Schwab U.S. Dividend ETF has been reduced from 17 basis points to 7 bps, its U.S. Small-Cap ETF from 13 bps to 7 bps and its U.S. Large-Cap ETF from 8 bps to 4 bps.
In a conference call with reporters this morning, Bettinger played off the discounts as a win for investors. “Last time I checked, low fees on index products are great for investors,” he said. “The price investors pay for investment products is important but we’re not going to stop here.”
When asked to elaborate on his statement, Bettinger coyly said that the firm’s big picture strategy is based on the needs of its clients and reiterated that the firm’s latest move is “a great thing for investor.”
So will Schwab also cut fees on its mutual funds. Marie Chandoha, president, Charles Schwab Investment Management, said that those funds “are already offered at a great value.” She also confirmed that the firm has filed to launch active ETFs but declined to provide further comments on that initiative.
And what about the firm’s much-anticipated 401(k) ETF platform? Bettinger said that the firm was currently “deeply involved in the trading and technical aspects” of the platform, which should make its debut sometime later in 2013 or even early 2014.